Reviews and Interviews
“It’s like a John Ford movie with the sweep of history and landscape.” – Viola Davis, Academy Award–nominated and Tony Award–winning actress
“In this wonderfully engaging first novel, Weisgarber has crafted a historical page-turner, complete with an indomitable protagonist, a setting worthy of Laura Ingalls Wilder and Willa Cather, and a theme both universal and timeless.” – Barnes & Noble Booksellers
“This debut novel about an African-American family on a ranch in the South Dakota Badlands circa 1917 offers taut writing and an unusual subject…” – USA Today
“Compelling historical fiction at its best, with appeal factors similar to Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain or Breena Clark’s Stand the Storm.” – Library Journal, starred review
“Admirably crisp prose… [Weisgarber] writes tenderly and with a tinge of spirituality when it comes to intimate family moments, and her spare descriptions evoke the simple territory in which the novel is set.” – Kirkus Review<
“A shimmering novel of the sacrifice, hardship, and determination of a black family in the early twentieth-century settlement of the West.” – Booklist
“Ann Weisgarber regales us with The Personal History of Rachel DuPree in a rousing gallop with African-American pioneers settling in the South Dakota Badlands.” – Ebony
“[Her] book paints a vivid picture of the tenacity and pride it took to survive life on the plains, while reminding readers the heart and soul it takes to survive as a woman.” – Denise I. O’Neal, Chicago Sun-Times
“It is a soul-satisfying story….Weisgarber’s prose is strong and simple, like Rachel. It delivers the right touch in a story that is fraught with tension…Be forewarned: Rachel DuPree’s story will claim some part of your spirit, too, and live there long after you finish the last page.” – Karen M. Thomas, The Dallas Morning News
“… a captivating twist on the familiar pioneer story: the mostly untold tale of African-American homesteaders … [This] is a story of race, hardship and courage, is ambitious for a first novel, and it triumphs.” – Allison Chopin, Richmond Times-Dispatch
“[Weisgarber’s] prose has a sophisticated flow to it that, in combination with story, immediately draws the reader in… [It] is more than historical fiction. At its heart it is a compelling story that at times will leave the reader breathless.” – Jessica Harrison, Deseret News (Salt Lake City)
“Ann Weisgarber’s debut novel “The Personal History of Rachel Dupree” vividly captures the day-to-day struggle to survive that constituted life on the frontier.” – Steve Bennett, San Antonio Express-News
“[O]ne of the greatest aspects … is how it puts the reader in another place and time… It’s also an inspiring story filled with so much heartbreak… Written simply, the flow and detail in the novel is something to be admired… [I]t rolls along like a tumbleweed across the prairie.” – Samantha Stiles, Austin American-Statesman
“…a book that few readers will be able to put down… What elevates the importance of this novel over many other Western novels is Weisgarber’s portrayal of racial and social prejudice as a universal human problem, one that must be combated by all ethnicities and by each individual.” – Betty Wiesepape, Texas Books in Review
“…perceptive first novel…quiet masterpiece…book clubs looking for something new and original to discuss need look no further…captures perfectly the interior journey of a wife and mother, replete with unspoken hopes, fears, and resentment.” – Diana Irvine, Sacramento Book Review
“… urgently moves forward with clear, absorbing prose, making it hard to put the book down. The story is captivating, and will dig deep into the hearts of its readers.” – Kassie Rose, WOSU Public Radio
“This is as much a story of race and the ambition to better one’s self, as it is about courage in the face of adversity… This is a poignant tale that will move you in unexpected ways, as it pits hope and pride against reality and resourcefulness.” – Gemini Sasson, Historical Fiction Review
“Weisgarber has crafted a piece of literature far more complex than what she suggests in the title and the plain language in which the book is written… [She] is able to capture the relationship between people at the mercy of their times, but also with a spirit that won’t be silenced by the hand or voice of another.” – Chance Solem-Pfeifer, The Daily Nebraskan
“Readers that enjoy reading historical events from a different point of view will find a winner in “The Personal History of Rachel DuPree.” Open this novel to hear a new layer of voices from the American West.” – Amanda Brewer, Beaufort County (South Carolina) Public Library
“I devoured this debut novel in large gulps… My image of the West, the Native Americans, the racism in its various iterations that spreads with emigration, is forever impacted by her story.” – Cheryl McKeon, Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, WA
“This is a powerful story with a heroine that you will root for every step of the way. Complex characters and vivid detail make for a compelling story with no easy answers.” – Andy Lillich, University of Oregon’s The Duck Store
“Just by writing a novel that no one else has thought to write yet, Weisgarber has pushed a frontier herself.” – Adrienne So, Bookslut.com
“I…was very much surprised by how much I liked this story… There were so many tender moments, some heartbreaking moments. Highly recommended” – APOOO Book Club
“…beautifully done, rendered in spare, un-showy prose as denuded as the Dakota earth.” – Alfred Hickling, The Guardian
“From the dramatic first chapter it’s a powerful story of courage in the face of adversity. Ann Weisgarber’s first novel is a gem.” – Gabrielle McGrane, Irish Examiner
“Vintage Americana, as chilling as Cold Mountain.” – Viv Groskop, Red
“…Ann Weisgarber has taken a little-known area of American history and created a novel that is beautifully written, intelligent and thoroughly diverting.” – Irene Haynes, bookgroup.info
“…a stunning read, with more than a nod at Steinbeck, yet enough distance to place the writer in her own territory.” – Trish Simpson-Davis, The Bookbag
“…this was one of those unputdownable, start one day, sleep a bit because you have to, and finish at first light the next day books and I was there, right there with Rachel DuPree.” – dovegreyreader.co.uk
“A first novel and a masterpiece…Subtle, poignant and sober, it gives voice to ghosts from the past who could never express themselves…an original angle…bravely placing itself into the great literary tradition of the American West historic fiction…an unforgettable heroine to whom Ann Weisgarber gives life without any pathos or heaviness. A beautiful American tale.” – L’Hebdo (Switzerland)
“…sheds light on little known aspects of the history of the American West…a magnificent novel, remarkably structured, in a style as spare as the Dakota’s land.” – Le commercial du Gard (France)
“A beautiful portrait of a woman and a mother in which personal history and the largest picture of history are intertwined.” – Evelyne Letribot, Ouest France
“…little-known page of history is rendered with the blending of documentary rigor and intimate viewpoint that makes bestsellers in the United States.” – Dernières nouvelles d’Alsace (France)
“Ultimately, it’s the portrait of a brave and free woman.” – Thierry de Lestang-Parade, L’Union (France)
“…throws light on some unrecognized aspects of the conquest of the West.” – Country Nelos (France)
Watch Ann’s video on Advice for young historical fiction writers.
Listen to Ann’s interview on NPR’s Weekend Edition.
Listen to Ann’s interview on the Electric Theatre Radio Hour.
Listen to Vick Mickunas’ WYSO interview with Ann.
Read Ann’s interview with Texas Monthly.
Listen to Some Books Considered‘s Dan Skinner’s interview with Ann.
Listen to WOSU (Columbus) Book Critic Kassie Rose’s review.
Watch Ann’s interview on Great Day St. Louis (KMOV-TV)